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The perfect Azores itinerary for São Miguel Island

Coastal view Sao Miguel Azores Islands

Before I set out planning my Azores itinerary, there were a few key points I knew I wanted to consider:

  • It wasn’t ideal whale-watching season, which is a popular thing to do in the Azores
  • I’m a decently picky (and I’ll admit it, snobby) eater, so I wanted to make sure we were near Ponta Delgada as much as possible around lunch and dinner time to maximize our options
  • We wanted some time to enjoy our gorgeous hotel

So with those factors in mind, I planned our four days, and the resulting Azores itinerary is below!

DAY 1: SETE CIDADES

If you’ve ever seen a photo of the Azores Islands, it was probably a photo of Lagoa das Sete Cidades—two twin lakes (one green, one blue!) separated by a narrow bridge. This sight was the first one we set out to see, and it was the perfect awe-inducing introduction to this gorgeous island. 

Start by googling Geeky Explorer’s directions (seriously, these saved us) to the jaw-dropping Miradouro da Boca do Inferno viewpoint and after taking in the gorgeous scenery, make your way down to Miradouro da Vista Do Rei. We continued down to the town of Sete Cidades and to the water’s edge.

Having arrived the night before (and with my friend Nathan having arrived that morning), we took the morning slow and set out later in the day, but you could easily start earlier and spend more time down at the lake itself. There are plenty of recreational activities you can do (including kayaking, etc.).

The next two stops are not to be missed. Head down to Ponta da Ferraria (totally fine in an automatic car) and swim in the ocean hot spring—it’s seriously such a cool experience! From there, hit Mosteiros for an incredible sunset. We made our way back to Ponta Delgada after doing just that for dinner at Colegio 27.

Two lakes Sete Cidades and mountains

Miradouro do Inferno viewpoint overlooking lake
Flowers on Sao Miguel Island Azores

Bath house near hot springs on Sao Miguel Island
Building on the coast overlooking the ocean

Sun setting over the ocean

DAY 2: FURNAS

We woke up planning to try to see Lagoa do Fogo on this day, but the weather was gray and a little rainy, so we swapped our plans and decided to spend the day in Furnas (specifically, Furnas Boutique Hotel’s indoor spa) instead. If it’s nice, go ahead and swap Day 2 and Day 3 of this Azores itinerary! Also, keep in mind when making your decision that weather cameras in the area can be unreliable

If it’s not nice, proceed to Furnas, stopping on the way at Miradouro Lombo dos Milhos. Even on a gloomy day, the red-tiled roofs and hydrangeas were beautiful!

If you get an early enough start or are doing an overnight in Furnas (see the “With More Time” section at the bottom), consider visiting the hot springs at Parque Terra Nostra. But if you want an uninterrupted spa day at Furnas Boutique Hotel like we did, go for it. Eat dinner at the restaurant there and then drive back to Ponta Delgada.

Viewpoint overlooking hydrangeas and red-roofed houses
Blue and white hydrangea

Carly and Nathan sitting on a ledge

Furnas Boutique Hotel exterior
Water pouring out of natural hot spring

Furnas Boutique Hotel indoor pool Tables and chairs at Furnas Boutique Hotel restaurant

DAY 3: LAGOA DO FOGO

Once again, we switched up our plans around the weather at Lagoa do Fogo, opting to go in the afternoon so that the clouds around it had some time to burn off. We spent the morning exploring the Arruda Pineapple Plantation in nearby Fajã de Baixo (a fun little way to spend an hour or so), checking out the city of Ponta Delgada and arriving at opening to snag a table at the always-busy A Tasca for lunch.

After that, we FINALLY gave Lagoa do Fogo a try only to find that the weather was absolutely perfect. You can hike down to the lake to spend some extra time there, and definitely drive up past it to Pico da Barrosa for some insane views! On the way home, don’t miss the Jurassic Park-like hot springs at Caldeira Velha.

End the day at the Azor Hotel pool and with dinner in Ponta Delgada. 

Row of pineapples at a market
White building and tree with purple flowers

Lagoa do Fogo and surrounding mountains
Lagoa do Fogo from above

People in forested hot springs pool

DAY 4: NORDESTE

If you’re thinking you’ve seen all the best views on the island by this point, think again. Spend the day driving around Nordeste and admiring the ocean from its stunning cliff overlooks. Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego in particular not only has killer lookouts, but gorgeous gardens, too!

On the way back to Ponta Delgada, stop at Ribeira dos Caldeirões for some waterfalls and beautiful scenery. After that, make sure you visit Miradouro de Santa Iria for one of my favorite views on the whole island (and, if you’re lucky, a gelato pedi-cart!)

Flowers overlooking the ocean
White flowers in a garden

Green oceanside cliffs

Waterfall in front of moss and trees
Pink and yellow flower

Jagged coastline and ocean

WITH MORE TIME

The one major change I would have made to this Azores itinerary if I’d been able to is to do an overnight at Furnas Boutique Hotel. Heading back to Ponta Delgada from Furnas after dinner was more driving than we really wanted to do in the dark, and with a little more time in Furnas, we could have checked out the orange hot springs of Parque Terra Nostra and walked around the botanical gardens. 

With a fifth day on São Miguel, I would have gone whale watching if we’d been in prime season, and with an extra two days, I would have liked to see at least one other island in the archipelago. Overall, though, I’d say four days definitely felt like enough time to get a good feel for the island and see what we wanted to see as first-time visitors!

For more on the Azores, check out these posts on our award stay at Azor Hotel and things you should know before your trip.

Are you planning to visit the Azores? What’s on your to-see list? If you’ve been there, was there anything from your Azores itinerary that I missed? Let me know in the comments! >>

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Carly

November 4, 2018

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